One of our all time favorite movies in our house is Disney's Aladdin. Great story line, compelling characters, super animation and Broadway caliber music and singing. It's awesome.
One of my favorite scenes is when Aladdin asks Jasmine, "Do you trust me?" and then they jump off the roof. Later Aladdin asks Jasmine the same question and that is when she realizes that "Prince Ali" is actually Aladdin.
God is a lot like that.
When we look at the Bible the common theme that runs through it is a dialogue between God and man. Usually, it is God inviting and then man freely responding. Sometimes we get it right (when we trust Him) and other times we get it wrong (when we don't trust him).
First it doesn't start too well. God invites Adam and Eve to live in peace in the Garden and to enjoy everything but to trust him and not eat the fruit of one tree. Adam and Eve didn't too well in the trust department. Sure Satan tempted them with the lie that still works, You can be like God if you eat this apple. But in the end, Adam and Eve were the ones that ate it. For all God did for them, they didn't trust and obey God's one rule and they (and all of us) were banished from Eden.
But we also have other examples of where trusting God did work.
Poor Abraham was asked multiple times. First he was already old when God invites him to leave everything behind, go to a foreign land, and form a new nation. Then after he did that, God blessed him and Sarah with a son after they had long given up hope for having children. And then God tells Abraham to kill Isaac, his only son whom he loved. Dude, that is messed up! And through it all, Abraham trusted God and because of it, he did found a great nation. God kept his promise. Jews, Christians, and Muslims all point to the same God -- the God of Abraham and Isaac. Abraham did get more children than stars in the sky.
The epic story in the Old Testament is the Exodus and we see the same dialogue. God invites Moses to take the chosen people out of bondage and into freedom. Like most of us, Moses thought, You've got to be kidding? Look you got the wrong guy. I got kicked out of there and they know who I am. I am no good at public speaking. Did you know that I killed a guy? You can do better. I am tending sheep. But in the end Moses trusted God and took the risk to do God's will and a people were freed from bondage.
Fast forward to the New Testament.
Same dialogue. Jesus invites Peter to leave his nets behind to become fishers of men and he does immediately.
But the story that always stuck with me was Zacchaeus. Here he is, a short guy so he was probably picked on when he was growing up. Then he is not only a tax collector but the chief tax collector so he is working for the hated Romans. Then he is wealthy so people resent him and think he is cheating them. This poor guy probably had no friends and he had to know people were talking behind him, making fun of his height, calling him a traitor to his own people. Then Zacchaeus hears that Jesus is coming. He wants to see him so bad that he climbs a tree just to have a glimpse. Sure, he knows people are going to make fun of him again but he doesn't care. He wants to see Jesus.
Then the unexpected. Jesus invites Zacchaeus to have him over to Zacchaeus' house for dinner. (OK, it is more like a command but He is the Son of God after all.) Can you almost hear the shock wave in the crowd. The Bible says the crowd starts to mutter that Jesus is going to be guest of the "sinner." And yet Zacchaeus is oblivious to all of that. The crowds no longer matter. Zacchaeus is a changed man because of the invitation. Right there he pledges half his possessions to go to the poor and if he has cheated anybody out of anything, he would repay four times the amount. "IF?" Could it be that Zacchaeus was wealthy but didn't cheat anyone to get that wealth? Could it be that no one bothered to learn the truth because it was easier to assume the worst about Zacchaeus. After all, he had to be a cheat to earn his wealth -- the man was short and a tax collector!
And so the dialogue continues. God is still inviting me and He is still inviting you.
And did you notice another thing about these invitations? These are not small things. When God asks Do you trust me? Hold on to your hat because he is not asking for a cup of sugar. It's more like jumping off the roof!
Sometimes, I hear people say God's not asking me to do that. That's just too much. I can't teach RE, I am not good at that sort of thing. God couldn't possibly be asking me to do that.
I hate to burst their bubble but maybe He is asking them exactly to do that.
There is one thing that is certain. God is persistent -- if he wants you to do something, He'll be back and He might need to pump up the volume to get your attention. But God will also let it be your decision. He won't force you do it - that's not how it works. He invites -- you respond.
So what is God calling you to do? Volunteer more? Share your blessings with those that have less? Give up your job to spend more time with your family? Move to someplace completely new and do something you've never done before? Change your life so you have less so you can live more?
Whatever it is - you can be certain that it is really one question -- Do you trust me?
Well, do you?